The Ethnic Support Council in Kelso was awarded a $50,000 grant to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among Black, Indigenous and people of color throughout the state, according to a Friday press release.
“We are so excited to receive financial support from All in Washington through its Vaccine Equity Initiative to do such crucial work to help our community during the COVID-19 pandemic by reaching out to people of color, refugees and immigrants who live and work in Cowlitz County to encourage them to get vaccinated,” Ethnic Support Council Board President Cindy Lopez Werth said in the statement.
All in Washington, a statewide relief effort, awarded $2.8 million total in its first four grant rounds to more than 100 organizations, according to the press release. Priority was given to organizations that serve a large number of Black, Indigenous and people of color, including refugees, immigrants and agricultural workers. The review and selection process also prioritized funding in counties with lower overall vaccination rates.
“Some refugees, immigrants and others here as well as other parts of Washington either have not received information about when and where vaccinations are being given or they get the information too late to get an appointment,” Werth said. “Some don’t have internet access or there’s a language barrier or they don’t have transportation to get to a vaccination site.”
Werth said some people might be worried they’re not eligible to receive a vaccination because they’re not United States citizens or think they’ll be asked about immigration status. The vaccines are free, yet some believe they have pay to get vaccinated, she said.
The Ethnic Support Council will use part of the grant to hire bilingual part-time outreach workers who are part of, or familiar with, the culture of the people they will contact, Werth said. The workers will help provide COVID-19 information specifically designed for various ethnic groups, encourage vaccination, help set up vaccine appointments, remind people about appointments and provide transportation to and from appointments.
The organization is seeking part-time outreach workers fluent in English plus Cambodian, Chuukese, Spanish or Vietnamese. People interested can email Outreach Coordinator Sally Hembree at firstname.lastname@example.org.